Every bit as relevant as it was the day it was published in 1997, Tom Peters article on “The Brand Called You” has become one of those common sense and fundamental ideas that is often talked about in universities and business schools as a way to stand out in the job market and a way to ensure you land that all important first ‘career’ position. If you haven’t read it recently, click here for a copy!
Since the publication of that article, a whole industry has grown up around personal branding and helping people to manage the impressions formed by recruiters, head hunters and potential employers to secure a place in their chosen profession. Many see personal branding as a tool to use if you happen to be actively seeking a new position. You set up a Linked-in profile, add a few recommendations, dust off your resume, clean out your Facebook profile and un-friend any dubious characters in preparation for putting yourself back on the market. Not really something that you need to think about unless you are actively looking for a new adventure, right?
If you are an Entrepreneur or Business Owner, including Equity Partners in Professional Service Firms; your personal brand and your overall business brand are often synonymous.
Hard to convince your clients and prospective clients that your business will act in their best interests, or that responsiveness, accountability and value are intrinsic to your service if these characteristics are not portrayed by you as an individual.
If you are not yet a business owner, but imagine one day adding the word Partner or President to your card, then you must treat personal branding as an essential part of how you operate daily. Knowing what it takes to create a strong reputation and to manage the impression that you form with clients, colleagues and prospects through every interaction is essential to ensuring that when the time comes, the best opportunities will find their way to you.
So what does Google have to do with it?
In these days of social and digital media, we have never had so many tools to enable us to amplify and manage our personal reputations. What you say, what you do, where you are seen, who you choose to associate with, what you think about a particular business issue… all these elements of your personal brand can be demonstrated and shared through social tools. When people meet you for the first time you can bet they will be ‘googling’ your name as fast as you can say “nice to meet you”. When they do, its important that your name and your accomplishments are congruent with the way you present yourself.
The opposite is also true; a poorly considered comment, a questionable display of behaviour, inappropriate actions, indiscriminate associations can also appear as part of the tapestry that becomes your personal brand and reputation. Google never forgets!!
Three things I know about Branding (personal or traditional)
- Brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what others say and think about you.
- Your brand is created through every experience and interaction people have with you – live, online, in written form, from a distance, third hand, and brand impressions can be both fleeting and memorable…
- ACTION trumps Intellect every time. Unless you are an academic, you don’t build a reputation on what you think, or what you know, or what you understand, but rather how you apply all that to what you do and how that impacts others.
Branding tools for everyone…
Linkedin, Facebook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Face to Face Meetings, Telephone Calls, Coffee meetings Emails, Blogs, Articles, Seminars, Conferences, Public Presentations, Teaching opportunities, Volunteering opportunities… These are all part of the personal branding tool-kit. How many of these are you using purposefully today to manage and sustain your chosen brand characteristics? Social media may have made it easier for you to develop your reputation, but once you have built it, you also need to nurture and protect it. Choose your tools (shields) wisely!